The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
John B. Cowle (Propeller), U77559, collision, 31 May 1906


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STEAMER "ERIN" CUT IN TWO - FIVE DROWNED.
      Detroit, Mich., May 31. - The steamer ERIN, upbound and towing the schooner DANFORTH, was run into and cut in two by the steamer COWLE in the St. Clair River just below St. Clair early today and five members of the ERIN's crew were drowned.
      The dead: - Chief Engineer, Patrick W. Quinn, of Port Dalhousie, Ont.
      Fireman, "Bang" Hill, St. Catharines, Ont.
      Mrs. Mary Reed, Spanish River, Ont.
      Watchman, shipped from Detroit, home Amherstburg, Ont.
      Mrs. Herbert, of Cleveland.
      The ERIN is owned by Thomas Conlon of Thorold, Ont., and the COWLE by the United States Transportation Company of Cleveland. The collision occurred during a fog. The COWLE is a modern freighter, and is not thought to have been much damaged, while the ERIN was a wooden vessel of the old type.
The ERIN was carrying 800 tons of coal from St. Catharines to Algoma Mills. Officers of the schooner DANFORTH charge that the COWLE did not stop and assist in the rescue of the ERIN's crew. The ERIN sank so ripidly after the collision that those members of the crew who were asleep had little chance for their lives.
      The Buffalo Times
      May 31, 1906

      . . . . .

Detroit, June 1. - In order to allow her to pass the Limekiln Crossing yesterday, it was necessary to lighten the steamer J.B. COWLE, which ran into the steamer ERIN in the St. Clair River yesterday morning. Her forward compartments are filled with water.
      The Buffalo Times
      June 1, 1906

      . . . . .

      STEAMER COWLES BADLY HURT IN COLLISION WITH ERIN.
Detroit, Mich., June 1. - The steamer J. R. COWLE, which ran into and sank the steamer ERIN in the St. Clair River, passed down here at noon yesterday with her forward compartment full of water. She had to be lightered to enable her to get over Limekiln Crossing. The steamer ERIN is said to be in the channel and will be buoyed and lighted at night by the Lake Carriers' Association. All vessels should keep toward the Canadian bank.
      The COWLE has her forward plates stove in below the water line and is leaking badly. Capt. Montague blames the ERIN for the accident and is quoted as saying that the latter ran across the bow of the COWLE.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Friday, June 1, 1906

      . . . . .

      STEAMER COWLE UNCOADING CARGO AT HURON.
Cleveland, June 2. -- The steamer COWLE, which sent the ERIN to the bottom of St. Clair River, is unloading her ore cargo at Huron. The steamer is in bad shape, but the full extent of her injuries will not be known until her cargo is taken out. Captain Montague says the criticisms of himself and crew for not standing by the ERIN after the collision were unjust.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Saturday, June 2, 1906

      . . . . .

      CAPTAIN MONTAGUE UNJUSTLY BLAMED.
      Strong Current Prevented His Giving Assistance to ERIN.
Vessel-men at all points along the lakes are discussing the settlement of the COWLES - ERIN collision case. It will be remembered that the COWLES sunk the ERIN in the St. Clair River, just off the middle of the river toward the Canadian side opposite St. Clair, and several of the ERIN's crew were drowned. The COWLES has not yet been libeled, and is now at Huron making temporary repairs and will later go to Lorain or Cleveland to be dry-docked, The ERIN and tow barge DANFORTH were going up the river at about 7 miles an hour and the COWLES , Capt. Montague, was coming down at about 8 miles an hour, The COWLES had On about 8,000 tons of ore, and the current of the river runs about two miles an hour. She struck the ERIN and sunk her almost immediately. The COWLES is owned by the United States Transportation Co. The loss on the ERIN and cargo amounts to about $20,000.
Capt. Montague has been severely critised for his failure to lower boats to aid the crew of the ERIN, and in the litigation which is almost certain to precede the settlement of the case; his action will bear heavily against his company. However, prominent vessel-men state there are several important circumstances which governed his action and they must be recognized. In the first place, he was heavily laden. He was also going at practically full speed, and furthermore the current at the point of collision is quite rapid. Some experienced men say that it would have been impossible for him to have stopped near the wreck of the ERIN. Furthermore he called to his mate to man the boats previous to striking the ERIN, and told the watchman to call the men, so all three say. Capt. Montague remained on the pilot house all the time giving necessary orders. His mate reported to him that the COWES' forepeak was nearly full, and that it was hardly possible for the collision bulkhead to hold. Capt. Montague had slowed down, but when he received this alarming information he edged over toward shore, believing it would be necessary to beach his boat. At this time, which was some 15 minutes after the COWLES struck the Erin, his boats were in the water, but he was more than a mile below the wreck of the ERIN. He learned that the DANFORTH had two boats overboard, and also that the Anchor line steamer ALASKA was at the wreck of the ERIN, and fearing he might sink, and seeing clearly that he could be of no assistance to the crew of the ERIN, he kept on his course.
It is almost certain that under no circumstances could he have been of any service to the crew of the ERIN, but sentiment will be against him, and one of the highest authorities in admiralty on the chain of lakes believes that it will be a nice point in the settlement of the case.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Monday, June 4, 1906

     

      Steam screw JOHN B. COWLE. U. S. No. 77559. Of 4731 gross tons; 3911 tons net. Built Port Huron, Mich., 1902. Home port, Cleveland, O. 420.0 x 50.2 x 24.0 Crew of 21. Of 2,100 indicated horsepower.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1903
     


Media Type:
Text
Newspaper
Item Type:
Clippings
Notes:
Reason: collision
Lives: nil
Remarks: Repaired
Date of Original:
1906
Subject(s):
Local identifier:
McN.W.17113
Language of Item:
English
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 42.82087 Longitude: -82.48602
Donor:
William R. McNeil
Copyright Statement:
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
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John B. Cowle (Propeller), U77559, collision, 31 May 1906